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Sep 30, 2019

The last remaining Amazonian forest in Ctrl America

sunset in Osa
sunset in Osa

WHY DO WE NEED TO SAVE CORCOVADO NATIONAL PARK?

Corcovado is considerate the last remaining Amazonian rainforest in Central America.   Locate in the Osa Conservation Area in Costa Rica, Corcovado National Park encompasses 45,757 terrestrial ha and 5,375 marine ha and contains a variety of ecosystems including forests, beaches, coral reefs, and mangrove  

Corcovado has an unusually high level of biological diversity, which provides essential habitat for a number of endemic and endangered species, which makes Corcovado, Costa Rica’s most biologically important lowland protected area, according to the Ministry of Environment

The area includes around 25-30 ecosystems. These various habitats support a number of species of plants and wildlife, including a number of animals that are globally endangered, including jaguars, tapirs, and peccaries The fact that Corcovado contains significant populations of large predators such as jaguars and puma reflects the overall ecosystem integrity of the area. 

Scientists are still recognizing new and unique biological processes that occur in the Corcovado area.  Biologists recently discovered that Golfo Dulce, located just east of Corcovado, is a calving area for both northern and southern Pacific populations of humpback whales. This circumstance is very rare, and may prove essential for the preservation of genetic diversity of this species.  These whales pass through the protected waters of Corcovado National Park and the Isla del Caño. 

Recently the highly endangered harpy eagle believed to be locally extinct in Corcovado National Park since 1989, was confirmed to still exist in the Park or to have returned. 

Corcovado and the Osa Peninsula contain extremely high species diversity.  Biologists estimate that the area contains approximately 10,000 species of insects, at least 2,418 species of plants, 700 species of trees, 140 species of mammals, 367 species types of birds, 117 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 40 species of freshwater fish.  An estimated 49 species of trees in the area are in danger of extinction, at least 12 of which are endemic to Costa Rica.  In addition, the Osa Peninsula is the home of an endemic species of bird and 17 endemic subspecies of birds. Corcovado also contains the most significant populations of large endangered mammals such as jaguars, pumas, ocelots, white-lipped peccaries, and tapirs, on the Pacific coast of Central America.   In addition to endangered mammals, there are relatively large populations of endangered birds in Corcovado including scarlet macaws and the great curassow.

Corcovado’s forests exemplify the popular conception of the tropical rain forest, with a multitude of species, very tall trees, spectacular buttresses, large woody lianas, and abundant herbaceous vines. 

In sum, Corcovado represents one of the world’s most important sources for future knowledge about rainforest ecosystems and the conservation of biological diversity.

Sirena Ranger Station
Sirena Ranger Station
Park rangers camp site in Llorona
Park rangers camp site in Llorona

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Jul 31, 2019

The new season has started

our first nest
our first nest

First and most importantly we finally finished our hatchery, which has walls and a roof made of flexible fencing to protect the nests from predators, and also includes a wall of logs to protect it from the rising high tides. The volunteers who helped in the construction process, which took two weeks of intense work, each painted a sign to hang on each row of the hatchery to identify the nests we relocate there. So each nest in the hatchery will be named after a volunteer, and have a number ie: Pol1. We’ve worked hard with the volunteers not only teaching them about sea turtles, but also about conservation in general, sustainability, and how each of us can reduce our impacts on the planet. We have organized various activities to achieve that goal including: beach clean ups, clean and save the soft plastics that we use to create eco-bricks, watch a documentary on plastic to generate a conversation about it, and make bread, cake, and coconut oil to show that it’s possible to make common things that are wrapped in plastic. During our two beach clean ups we collected 5 bags and four bags of trash respectively. And while we washed our soft plastic, we had an insightful conversation about how we here in the project could improve and how each of them could also make changes to reduce our plastic use. 

This group was especially interested in biology and science, so we went to put up camera traps on the Ocean Forest Lodge’s property, which we reviewed a week later. We captured images of great currasow, agudi, and (to much excitement) an ocelot. Since some of the volunteers were here as part of a field course for their universities I assigned them the task of designing a small research project, collecting data, and presenting a 5 minute explanation. Three chose to join forces to do a catalogue of fish species in San Josecito, and one chose to compare bird activity in an area with high human activity with one of low human activity, 

We are working towards starting environmental education and community outreach activities here, and we are in contact with the profesor of the local school about when and how to start classes.

As of now we have 9 nests in the hatchery and one nest relocated outside of the hatchery. It’s possible that one turtle we worked was a hybrid due to the shape of her track, the shape of her shell, her nesting process and her facial features. We will be anxiously awaiting her babies to see what features they present. 

It seems as if each volunteer that has passed through has had an enriching and positive experience with us, and it’s been a pleasure to share the experience with them. They’ve told us that they have learned a lot and we have also learned from them. 

Jul 29, 2019

Heroes of the rainforest

Costa Rica’s territory covers approximately 51,000 square kilometers and more than 25% of this land is either a national park or a protected area. Costa Rica has 161 parks and refuges.  You might have heard of some of our famous protected areas, such as Corcovado and Manuel Antonio National Parks.  Although, our tourism visitors love Costa Rica’s biodiversity only a few of the protected area are the focus of their interest.  The funding received by the few visited national parks is distributed to pay for the operation of all of those which don’t receive any tourism.   Therefore, regardless of their biological importance and their beauty, Corcovado and Manuel Antonio National Parks and others in the country are in shambles, working with a 10% of the operational budget that they require and trying to face the enormous pressure of oh so many human threats.

Amid this struggle, we find our park rangers, living in isolated areas, under very poor conditions and facing very real threats. However challenging their situation, these true heroes of the forest are doing a huge effort to protect the natural heritage of Costa Rica and the world.  

Some months ago, we were contacted by Corcovado’s administrator to ask us for help.  We say we were born for Corcovado, and we live for Costa Rica. Therefore, our heart always floats back to Corcovado.  Working with very limited funding, this national park faces all the possible threats:  illegal hunting, fishing and logging, overdeveloping, goldmining and even drug trafficking, are some of their issues.  

As part of our efforts we are starting a campaign to solve some of their needs, improve their communication and power system, buy equipment and hopefully at some point hire more personnel.   This video is a first effort to create awareness about their amazing efforts.  It features the conditions and circumstances under which these everyday heroes of the forest operate.  These park rangers will touch your heart with their commitment and their motivation to protect Corcovado, the crown jewel of the national park system of Costa Rica.  I hope that you didn’t miss your Spanish class in highschool, if you did, a subtitled version will be uploaded very shortly too.  Stay tuned. 

Thank you for your support,

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